Shielding Doctors

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As the virus jammed Wuhan in China and triggered a global appetite for personal protection equipment (PPE), a young innovator in Srinagar decided to jump into the ring. Finally, he has produced a low-cost face shield that doctors say is better and of great help. The beauty of the innovation is that anybody can produce it at home, reports Syed Samreen

A doctor in District Hospital Pulwama wearing the face shield that a young innovator designed to manage the dearth of PPEs world over. KL Image: Special arrangement

In December 2019, when people around the world couldn’t decipher how huge of an outbreak would befall humanity, Jawaaz Ahmad had sort of premonition that he must do something to alleviate the shortage of protective equipment for doctors. His thought process was in response to the shortage of basic protective gear that the world felt short of, overnight.

Jawaaz, 28, a young innovator who is a design fellow in the Design Innovation Centre of Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), did some exercise within days. He wanted to innovate a protective gear for the frontline workers fighting against the Coronavirus that has been infected the health workers across the globe. Apart from identifying the particular gear, he wanted it to be something that is low-cost, effortless to make and most of all effective.

Kashmir’s Mask Manager

Finally, Jawaaz came up with the idea of a protective gear worn to shield the face from any kind of splash and of course to avoid any possibility of contracting the virus. The protective ‘Splash Guard’ made by Jawaaz didn’t just benefit a bunch of people as he had earlier thought, but instead, the idea was taken up on the bigger level where doctors in Kashmir found it extremely beneficial at the time of critical equipment shortage.

A Face Shield or the Splash Guard is something that protects a person from potentially infectious materials and chemical splashes. The one that Jawaaz makes serves the purpose of any other splash guard except that they are low-cost and easy to make. After receiving tremendous support from doctors, the ever-so-encouraged Jawaaz decided to increase the production of the face shields.

Jawaaz Ahmad, a design fellow at DIC IUST, Awantipora, has been working on devising a low cost shield since early 2020 when the onset of virus in China triggered a huge demand for the personal protection equipment for health workers. KL Image: Special Arrangement

“I was convinced that I could make something impermeable and effective for the doctors and other healthcare members and so I decided to experiment with plastic sheets,” Jawaaz told Kashmir Life.

Jawaaz did a lot of homework before actually starting it. He found that the routine surgical mask may not be as protective as the doctors require. The sub-microscopic Coronavirus measures just 80-120 nanometres and the pore size of the masks used daily ranged from 1200 to 56000 nanometres. This means that doctors require something impenetrable. This led him to reach his DIY face splash guard.

“The best thing about it is that anyone can make it and it only takes 15 minutes to make one,” Jawaaz said. “The material required can be found at home.”

After making the first set of the shields, Jawaaz sent over 200 pieces to four major hospitals of Srinagar: 58 pieces to GB Pant Hospital, 21 to SKIMS, Soura, 80 to CD Hospital, 15 to SMHS Hospital and 61 to District Hospital Pulwama.

“I have a lot of pending requests from other district hospitals to supply them the shields,” Jawaaz said. “I have now started making these guards on a daily basis and at the end of the day I can end up with almost 40-60 of them.”

Motivated by Dr Shahkar Ahmad Nahvi, IUST’s Coordinator Design Innovation, the icebreaker innovation by this young Kashmiri has sent flutters across the valley and perhaps in the country too.

“After it was tested and approved by many doctors, twenty days into the making, now everyone is manufacturing the shields at home and giving them away to the frontline warriors fighting the invisible enemy, for free,” Dr Nahvi said.

Recently, Nehvi said, students from Kashmir University, social workers from prominent NGO, Athrout and even faculty members of Aligarh Muslim University have taken to manufacturing them.

Innovator Jawaaz Ahmad wearing his innovation, the low-cost face splash shield that is currently being used by various hospitals in Kashmir. KL Image: Special Arrangement

Dr Nahvi encouraged Jawaaz to make the video of the procedure public so that people across take the idea up and the young innovators of Kashmir get encouraged producing new things that could prove beneficial and useful in these testing times.

Supportive of Jawaaz, Dr Talib Khan, an Associate professor in SKIMS said that he and the other fellow doctors appreciated and lauded Jawaaz on the initiative that he had taken.

“After Jawaaz showed me the sample, I suggested him to improvise on the model as it seemed that it would be much needed henceforth,” Dr Khan said.

Dr Khan, who himself has been an active innovator of healthcare equipment in the past, said that the boy once stayed with him till late in the night to work and improve upon his model. “The best thing you can do while sitting at home is to start contributing to the outer world by innovating even the smallest of things that can be useful at the times of tribulation,” Dr Khan asserted.

Till date, Jawaaz has made a total of 261 face guards out of which the 26 recently manufactured pieces were sent to the IUST quarantine centre for the workers in charge.

Unmasked

Dr Tufaila Shafi of the GB Pant Hospital was  in complete appreciation of the young innovator.  “The boy isn’t even a part of the medical fraternity but he still went all out to try and benefit us from his innovation,” he said.

Doctors all over the world are using this kind of a shield, Dr Shafi said, but in Kashmir, it was not available and it had sparked a wave of insecurity in us. She said that once the GB Pant authorities approved the sample, they gave another order for the guards as it gave them a sense of protection. “The boy has reached to hundreds of doctors and contributed to their security and protection without any monetary interests,” she said.

Pulmonologist Dr Naveed Nazir Shah, who is heading the Chest Disease Hospital, the main Covid-19 Hospital said the innovation is hugely useful and a flawless effective gear. “It is light-weight and doesn’t fog the view,” Dr Naveed said. “In certain interventional procedures, there is aerosol generation and the shield being impermeable doesn’t let any aerosols pass through it. It has been extremely helpful to us.”

Coronavirus: Are We Ready?

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